Day 59: Blondie takes a ride on the Alaska Railroad

Day 59: Saturday, July 13, 2013

Nothing could top the thrill of yesterday’s flight-seeing tour to Mt. McKinley and the Ruth Glacier so we decided to take a relaxing railroad ride.

We enjoyed breakfast at the Roadhouse Cafe, another restaurant featured on Man vs Food. After filling up on their delicious sourdough blueberry pancakes,  we wandered  through the Talkeetna Cemetery to see the memorial which honors the memory of the mountain climbers who lost their life attempting to climb Mt. McKinley.

Our train adventure was aboard the Alaska Railroad’s Huricane Turn Train. It is one of the last flag stop trains in the country. Passengers can get on an off all along the route. Anyone going camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, or taking provisions to their cabin in the wilderness can get on or off wherever they wish. Since it is a sightseeing trip the baggage car has open doors so passengers can watch the view without looking through a window. The baggage car was piled with back packs, suitcases, and supplies.

We found out when we arrived at the station that we could bring Blondie so Henry ran back to get her before boarding. She was one happy dog when she knew she wasn’t going to be left behind.

All Aboard!

Our conductor Warren shared stories about the area and about the railroad. The scenery was spectacular with more views of Mt. McKinley. The train stopped on the bridge over Hurricane Gulch before reversing directions to make the return trip to Talkeetna.

On the return trip we stopped at Sherman, Alaska to meet author Mary Lovel and buy a copy of her book “Journey to a Dream” which tells the story of moving to the Alaska wilderness with their four children 49 years ago. She signed each book and even handed out a pen with her name and email address.

The conductor Warren was disappointed we had not seen any wildlife. Near the end of the trip he spied a moose in a field and ran through the car to tell the engineer to stop and back up so everyone could see the moose. The moose was having none of that and ran back into the woods before I could get a picture. Other than the moose I saw a pair of swans swimming in one of the many ponds we passed.

Day 57: Searching for Mt. McKinley

Day 57: Thursday, July 11, 2013 Teklanika Campground to Talkeetna, Alaska. Talkeetna Camper Park Site 34. 182 miles traveled.

The sky was still overcast as we drove the 30 miles from Teklanika to the Denali National Park exit. Our chances for a clear view of Mt. McKinley on our drive south on the Parks Highway were looking pretty slim. Mt. McKinley, at 20,320 feet tall, is the tallest mountain in North America. On a clear day there are overlooks along the highway between Denali National Park and Talkeetna where the mountain can be seen. We were keeping our fingers crossed the sky would clear.

The views were spectacular as we drove along.

Our first view of Mt. McKinley from a Parks Highway overlook
Our first view of Mt. McKinley from a Parks Highway overlook

Then finally, parts of Mt. Mckinley came into view at one of the overlooks.

Stops at a couple of other overlooks were disappointing with clouds completely covering the mountain. Finally, as we drove into Talkeetna, we were rewarded with spectacular views from the Talkeetna overlook.

Happy happy happy! We checked into our campground and watched the Alaska Railroad trains load and unload passengers right behind our campsite.

We enjoyed a great dinner on the outside patio at the West Rib Cafe and Pub which was featured on an episode of The Travel Channel’s Man vs Food. An Alaskan Crabcake sandwich for me and Halibut and Chips for Henry hit the spot.